What Marketers Can Learn From Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is the latest mobile app sensation. Seemingly overnight (though we now know this app has taken twenty years of work) everyone is obsessed with this game.

We have read tons of articles about the app’s success. From how it exploded without any PR assistance, to how Pokémon Go is among the first augmented reality mobile games to gain scaleable mass appeal — this app is truly in a class of its own.

But the ‘overnight success’ of this app isn’t the only thing that makes Pokémon Go amazing. Pokémon Go is especially mind-blowing because it is getting people outside. Instead of its successful predecessors like Angry Birds and Words With Friends, this app does not encourage people to hover over their phones at home. Instead, Pokémon Go requires its users to get outside, to work with their friends, and to be active.

For years, marketers have struggled to bring digital and reality together. Then suddenly, the out-of-home puzzle was solved with the mobilization of a 90’s card game. Here are a few key things we as marketers can learn from Pokémon Go:

  1. Don’t make it difficult: Pokémon Go is successful because it is easy to use. You don’t need to purchase any special device to play. All you need to do is download an app on the phone you already have then you can start.
  2. Let users involve their friends: Despite being glued to our phones most of the time, we are still social people. We have seen in the past that successful apps encourage community and sharing. If you are asking users to leave their homes, the response will be better if they are able to participate in groups.
  3. Use tried-and-true methods: Pokémon Go doesn’t use a ton of new ideas in their app. Instead, they used a perfect storm of things that work: level-driven gaming, competition with peers, and a strong sense of adventure and community. All of these things have been used in some way in popular apps in the past, but rarely have they been used all at once — and never has an app so unapologetically challenged users to get out and explore their city.

We are so excited to see what the future holds for Pokémon Go!